Radiotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Radiotherapy treats cancer by using high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, while doing as little harm as possible to normal cells. 

Sometimes radiotherapy is used to treat the head and spine if leukaemia cells have been found in the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. 

The course of treatment is given in the hospital radiotherapy department, usually in 8–10 sessions (called fractions) over two weeks. The treatment is given on weekdays with a rest at the weekend. Your doctor will discuss your treatment with you in detail beforehand. 

A special form of radiotherapy, called total body irradiation (TBI), is sometimes used before a donor stem cell transplant. Radiotherapy is given to the whole body to get rid of leukaemia cells in the bone marrow.

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Possible side effects

There are things you can do to help manage the possible side effects of radiotherapy treatment.

Who might I meet?

You will meet many different specialists before, during and after radiotherapy treatment.

After treatment

It can take time for your body to recover after finishing treatment. Advice and support is always available.